We reprint this article published by GraniteGrok regarding today’s commentary on why the legislature hasn’t sued The Governess Margaret Wood Hassan for her continued defiance of the “right to know” provisions in New Hampshire’s constitution and statutes. ~Publis
Is Someone Going To Sue Governor Hassan?
I get to listen to about 15 minutes of Girard at Large on my way to work and this morning in the seven-o’clock hour the subject of Governor Maggie Hassan’s illegal edict came up. I guess she is above the law.
The Duchess of Exeter has declared correspondence between herself and her Ministers (at her discretion) off-limits to public scrutiny. It’s need to know and we don’t need to know.
Rich and Harriet Cady rightly ask where she gets that authority from? Certainly not from New Hampshire’s Right to Know law (91-a) which makes no exclusions from such declarations. And not from New Hampshire Constitution which trumps 91-a.
[Art.] 8. [Accountability of Magistrates and Officers; Public’s Right to Know.] All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them. Government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable and responsive. To that end, the public’s right of access to governmental proceedings and records shall not be unreasonably restricted.
Assuming Governor Hassan knows or understands the law, and yes, I am being generous, is a “reasonable restriction” –as defined by Governor Hassan — anything she wants kept secret until someone decides to file a lawsuit against her to find out what she is hiding?
I just wrote about this problem at Watchdog Arena ...
The right to know–the ability of the people to obtain “public” documents related to state business from their ‘betters’–can be accurately described as people you pay, working in buildings you, the taxpayer, bought and maintain, using materials and equipment you provide, to collect and keep information they do not want you to have. Right to know is need-to-know, and you don’t need to know.
As an aside, having an editor is an interesting exercise – Here is my original unedited opening.
Right to know, the ability of the peasants to obtain “public” documents related to state business from their ‘betters,’ can be accurately described as people you pay, working in buildings you bought and maintain, using materials and equipment you provide, to collect and keep information they do not want you to have. Right to know is need-to-know and you don’t need to know.
I quote Rich in that article as well because his letter to the House committee on HB646 hits it out of the park several times; here with regard to yet another deliberate form of right to know obstruction…
In the (Town of Salem School Board) superintendent’s response, he acknowledges that everything I’ve requested is already and has always been in electronic format, but he refuses to provide it in that format, choosing instead to have staff take the time and resources to physically have the documents printed and then levy a per page fee he says includes labor costs, though the statute says the actual cost of providing a physical copy is what can be recovered.
Governor Hassan may or may not find a use for that tactic but I am willing to believe she is waiting for this… (from the same Watchdog article).
The only recourse is to take the public body to court where they will eventually lose the case at taxpayer expense but succeed in delaying access, potentially to a point at which the information no longer matters, which is exactly the point of the entire drawn-out process.
The Duchess of Exeter either gets her way in-violation of state law and the state constitution, something the ACLU, activists, and even the Concord Monitor oppose, or someone takes her to court.
Will the information being withheld be of any use by the time the case reaches a conclusion, very likely at the State Supreme Court? I do not suspect it will. But this is a gross abuse of executive power and every future governor of the great State of New Hampshire needs to hear the message. As Governor you are not above the law. You will try always to err on the side of transparency over secrecy because article 8 of the state constitution–which you are to protect and defend–demands it. And when you fail to defend the highest law in your state, put politics before the people, and work deliberately to hide things from the public, you should be made to pay a political price.
Someone needs to sue Governor Hassan.